Bangladeshi Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus will receive the Olympic Laurel at the Tokyo Games, the second time the trophy will be awarded, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said.
Yunus, whose pioneering micro-lender has been hailed for cutting poverty across the globe, will be honoured for “his extensive work in sport for development”, the IOC said in a statement on Thursday.
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The 81-year-old economist-turned-globe-trotting celebrity speaker won the Nobel in 2006. He will be given the award at the Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony on July 23.
The Olympic Laurel was created five years ago to recognise endeavours in culture, education, peace and development through sport, according to the IOC.
It was given for the first time at the 2016 Rio Games to Kenyan former Olympian Kip Keino, who opened a children’s home, a school and an athletes’ training centre in his home country.
Yunus founded the Grameen Bank in the 1980s and shared the Nobel Prize with the micro-lender. His initiatives include the Yunus Sports Hub, a network of social enterprises that promote development through sports.
Yunus has faced legal troubles in recent years after he was sacked in 2011 as head of Grameen Bank.
His supporters say he has been targeted by Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who accused him of “sucking blood” from the poor with high interest rates.
In March 2020, he was fined $88 after admitting that a social business firm he set up had broken labour laws.